NEW YORK -- Amid increasing talk of war in the Persian Gulf, President Bush appealed yesterday to his United Nations allies here for their continued support in case military action is taken.
Mr. Bush, who arrived here yesterday to attend U.N. functions today and tomorrow, is taking the opportunity to discuss the gulf crisis individually with the leaders of at least 20 other nations.
"He has the hope that we will not have a war there," said Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, one of several leaders who met with Mr. Bush yesterday afternoon. But he added that Mr. Bush was "very realistic."
Meanwhile, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze seemed to increase the likelihood of a concerted military strike against Iraq by saying yesterday that if the U.N. Security Council approved such a step, Soviet troops would take part.
"We are a permanent member of the Security Council, and we will comply with any decision . . . of the Security Council," Mr. Shevardnadze said during a taped interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," which is scheduled to be broadcast today. "That would involve anything regarding the involvement of the Soviet troops under the flag . . . of the U.N."
U.S. officials say they might seek approval for multinational military action against Iraq if it appears U.N.
economic sanctions are not working fast enough to prevent Iraq's destruction of occupied Kuwait.
One of the leaders Mr. Bush met with yesterday, President Gaviria of Colombia, currently has a vote on the Security Council.
While not commenting specifically on a resolution for military action, Mr. Gaviria said Mr. Bush was "asking Colombian cooperation . . . to be sure that international law prevails in the Middle East and all around the world."
Mr. Bush also discussed the gulf at length with Prime Minister Selim Hoss of Lebanon and with Japan's Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu.
Officials said Mr. Kaifu reiterated his determination to contribute manpower as well as money to the gulf effort, although he is prevented by Japanese law from sending troops.
Japan has pledged more than $4 billion to help finance the blockade of Iraq, including $2 billion in aid for Jordan, Turkey and Egypt -- nations bearing the economic brunt of the blockade.
Mr. Bush told the Japanese leader that "the timely disbursement" of those funds would be much appreciated by officials of those nations, according to Richard Solomon, an assistant U.S. secretary of state for the Far East.
[Mr. Kaifu also invited Mr. Bush to make a state visit to Japan early next year, and Mr. Bush accepted, according to the Associated Press.]